The first people to set foot on Mars may navigate around the Red Planet using a map drawn up with the help of the masses here on Earth.
The Dutch-based nonprofit Mars One, which aims to land four astronauts on the Red Planet during a one-way mission in 2025, has signed a deal to use a new "people's map of Mars" being developed by the space-funding company Uwingu, officials with both organizations announced Monday.
Most of the landforms on Uwingu's map will bear names chosen by members of the public who have paid a small fee. Uwingu announced last week that it's seeking monikers for the 500,000 unnamed craters currently cataloged on Mars. [Photos: How Mars One Will Colonize the Red Planet]
"The name you choose will go down in history, traveling on board our 2018 mission lander, and will be used by our future astronauts," Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp said in a statement.
Mars One's planned 2018 mission aims to launch a robotic lander and orbiter toward the Red Planet to demonstrate some of the technologies required for human missions. Further unmanned efforts will prepare for the arrival of people, who are slated to touch down in 2025 as the vanguard of a permanent Mars colony.
Mars One plans to pay for most of these activities by staging media events connected to the colonization project.
The chief purpose of Uwingu is to raise funds for space exploration, research and education. The price for registering a suggested Mars name starts at $5 and goes up as crater size increases. In exchange for carrying Uwingu's map to Mars, Mars One will receive a portion of the funds generated by the naming project, officials said.
"I'm very excited about this," said planetary scientist Alan Stern, Uwingu's founder and CEO.